At the age of 38, Moe mother of three ‘Jane’ realised the pitfalls of her biological clock.
When her second husband wanted a child, Jane found herself searching for an egg donor, but not before hurtling down an emotionally traumatic path of disappointment and heartbreak.
Her fallopian tubes had “inexplicably” warped, preventing any chance of semen meeting embryo, while her eggs had lost their fertile qualities;.
After natural conception with her husband failed, Jane looked to in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
A number of years and “over $100,000” later, she fell pregnant in 2007, but lost the baby at seven weeks.
“To go through five years of IVF and finally get pregnant, then to lose it at seven weeks; it causes enormous emotional strain. I just wanted to crawl into bed and cry with my husband,” Jane said.
It was then she realised something was obviously wrong.
In 2010, a $10,000 egg quality test pinpointed one potentially fertile egg out of 25, which was fertilised through IVF.
Again, Jane miscarried a few weeks later.
“You’ve got this hope that is all of a sudden shattered; the emotional roller coaster was unbelievable,” Jane said.
“Nothing’s sure in life, but if you get excited and it all falls down; when you do that repeatedly, it completely drains you.”
It was after experts advised working with her own embryos was “pointless” and “money down the drain” that sourcing an egg donor was considered by the couple.
While it became apparent the decision to accept someone else’s embryo was inevitable, the journey was far from complete, and Jane quickly realised the complicated and emotional ramifications of bringing another woman into the equation.
“We really had to seriously look at how we were to go about it. You’ll see today some split families created by the emotional trauma of one family mixed in with another,” Jane said.
“For me, it’s an enormous gift from a donor, but that person needs to realise the child is yours; they have to look at it like its giving blood, and they can’t have those emotional ties.”
Unlike sperm donors, who have an extensive register, locating a suitable egg donor is more complicated, with some aspiring mothers resorting to newspaper ads and online forums to seek eggs.
Jane said while her ideal donor needed to be below the age of 35 and finished having their own children, it was paramount the donor understood her condition of emotional disengagement, which she recognised was a big commitment.
“For us it was integral the donor understood me on this, but you don’t know any of this until you actually talk to the person face-to-face,” she said.
However, this proved a large ask.
After exhausting a host of potential donors, some of who were not prepared to agree to complete disengagement, with Jane even considering an international donor at a cost of $50,000 to $100,000, she decided on “someone that was very close” to her.
“It’s a big commitment on her behalf, and I really wanted her to think about it; she’s had to go through counselling sessions and fertility tests for this,” Jane said.
“You don’t want to go into this blindly; it’s a big emotional commitment for everyone involved and we don’t want her saying ‘yes’ then changing her mind at the last minute.
“She wants to see it as a donation and just wants to be known as a ‘cousin’ to the baby, and we can work with that.”
After a number of failed attempts, the IVF through donation has taken hold, and the baby is due in seven weeks.
Apart from a urinary tract infection, and a bleed during the first six weeks, Jane’s pregnancy has gone without incident.
“I’m still nervous every single day; I don’t think I’ll actually rest until I’ve got the baby in my hands,” Jane said.
“It’s been a can of worms; there’s just so much red tape and emotional trauma the recipient and donor have to go through.
“And once you’ve dealt with all your own emotions to personally accept you need a donor, it’s the emotional drama of having access and trying to find people to donate; it’s painstaking and personal stuff.”
But Jane wouldn’t change the journey for a second.
“If we didn’t go down this path, my husband wouldn’t have this precious gift,” she said.